Two Studies Show how Sunday Sales Negatively Impacted Public Safety in New
The original study concludes...
Our results strongly suggest that increasing
alcohol availability on Sunday was associated with increases in
alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and fatalities. Legalizing Sunday
package alcohol sales may increase state tax revenues, but at the same
time it exacts a significant price that is paid by crash victims and their
loved ones, health care providers. insurers, and law enforcement and
judicial systems. State legislators should consider these consequences
when deciding policy that is intended to serve the public well-being.
The follow-up study concludes...
Our previous work has shown a significant
impact of increased ARC risks when the ban on Sunday packaged alcohol
sales is repealed. The current study shows that this impact varies
considerably across counties in New Mexico. Furthermore, the negative
impact of legalized Sunday packaged alcohol sales appear to have been
mitigated in counties with large communities that quickly held an election
to re-institute a ban on Sunday packaged alcohol sales.
View Study, (PDF):
Geographic variability in alcohol-related crashes in response to legalized
Sunday packaged alcohol sales in New Mexico
2013 Duluth News Tribune Editorial
In 2013, the Duluth News Tribune published an editorial in
favor of Sunday Sales.
The article began:
Run out of beer on a Sunday and what do some Duluthians
do? They jump into their cars and motor across a bridge to a liquor store
in Superior for more, hoping the few they've already had weren't a few too
That potentially tragic scenario is an unfortunate
reality that plays out more regularly than many of us would care to think
about, and not only in Duluth, but in all Minnesota border communities.
This argument indicates people who have had too much to
drink should go to a liquor store closer to home to purchase more alcohol.
Business / Economics
Sunday Sales: Sunday Sales Not Good for the Bottom Line
By Edina City Manager Scott Neal
There's an annual discussion going on right now at the
State Legislature around the question of whether the good citizens of
Minnesota should be allowed to purchase beer, liquor and wine on Sundays.
The State Legislature sets the rules for such important life choices as
this, so it's only natural that they study the issue carefully, hear from
all sides on the matter and then make a rational decision that's good for
all concerned, right? Right.
Now I'll be the first to admit that upon moving to
Minnesota in 1996 that it struck me as a little odd that I could not buy
beer, liquor or wine on a Sunday. I had moved here from Iowa where you
could buy beer (OK, yes, it was 3.2 beer), liquor and wine in aisle 10 at
any Hy-Vee grocery store on Sunday or any other day of the week.
When I first moved here I thought it was odd that cities
with municipal liquor stores would partner with private liquor stores to
fight efforts to allow Sunday sales. Why? Why wouldn't we want our stores
to be able to sell on Sundays? Sure, employees aren't going to like it,
but isn't one of our key objectives in the liquor business to make money,
and wouldn't we make more money if we could be open on Sundays and sell
This is the third municipal liquor city that I've
managed in Minnesota. I'm not a brilliant business mind, but I know a
thing or two about the liquor business, so let's take a look at the
numbers in Edina to see if the Sunday sales idea makes any sense for us.
City staff project our 2011 total sales at our three
municipal retail stores to be $13,367,072. We project our total 2011
operating expenses at $12,338,481. That means our projected operating
income for 2011 will be just over one million dollars at $1,028,591.
In 2011, our stores will be open 307 days. We will be
closed on 58 days. 52 of those 58 days are Sundays. 6 of those 58 days are
holidays. In examining the hypothetical impact of the proposed
legislation, I will assume that we would be open 359 days and closed 6
days in 2011.
Our 2011 projected sales per day is $43,540. Our 2011
projected operating costs per day are $40,190. If you do the math, the
difference between these two numbers multiplied by the number of days we
will be open in 2011 (307) will equal our projected net operating income
for 2011: $1,028,591.
If the Legislature changes the law on Sunday sales, it
will be difficult for us not to be open on Sundays, so I will assume in
this hypothetical that our stores would be open for 52 additional days in
2011. If we further assume that our projected 2011 daily operating costs
of $40,190 would not be materially different on Sundays, we would add 52
more days of operating costs at $40,190/day to our annual operating cost
totals. This would increase our projected annual operating costs in 2011
by $2,089,729 from $12,338,481 to $14,428,210; an increase of 16.9%.
On the revenue side, if we were open on Sundays and
wanted to keep our projected net operating income the same ($1,028,591),
we would need total gross sales of at least $15,456,801, which is an
amount equal to the sum of our projected Sunday sales scenario operating
expenses of $14,428,210 + $1,028,591. This gross sales goal would require
an increase in our sales of $2,089,729; and increase of 15.6%.
So, if we want to stay exactly where we are right now,
fiscally, in the Sunday sales scenario we would need to hold down the
increase in our projected operating expenses to 16.9% or less and increase
our projected gross sales by at least 15.6%. Is that possible? Maybe, but
the challenge is steep.
In 2010 our total customer count for our three store
operation was 506,410. Our total sales were $12,862,719. Average sales per
customer then were $25.39. For the sake of this example, if we hold our
average sales per customer steady at $25.39, it would take an annual
increase of 102,365 in our 2011 customer count, an increase of 20%, in
order to create the $15,456,801 we need to generate our projected
$1,028,591 net annual operating income. If we work the equation the other
way, keeping the customer count steady at 506,410, we would need a 20%
increase in our average sales/customer, from $25.39/customer to
$30.52/customer) in order to gross $15,456,801 in order to net $1,028,591.
Getting back to my previous question: Is it possible to
maintain our current level of net operating income in Sunday sales
scenario? Short answer: I doubt it. The likelihood that we will experience
an increase in our annual operating costs under this scenario of something
in the neighborhood of 16.9% is high. The likelihood that we will
experience an increase in our annual gross sales under this scenario of
something in the neighborhood of 15.6% is, in my view, low. I do not doubt
that we will experience an increase in gross sales, but I do not see any
really evidence that would support an increase of close to 15.6%.
Those are the numbers I'm looking at. If I owned a
liquor store in Stillwater, Winona or Moorhead, I am sure that I'd see
this situation differently. But I don't. My interpretation of the numbers
is that the Sunday sales scenario is not good for the bottom line of the
City's municipal liquor operation. I could be missing something here, but
in the end, here's how I boil it down: good for consumers, but bad for
Regulatory Changes Have No Clear Positive Fiscal Effects
– Ball State University:
We find that permitting Sunday sales reduces the number
of retail package store establishments by roughly eight to ten percent
under different model specifications. When combining a relaxation of
Sunday sales with sales at non-package stores facilities, we observe the
loss of just over 25 percent of package stores. This result indicates that
any such regulatory change will likely result in only changes in the
structure of the industry. No cross border effects of the legislation were
observed. As a consequence, regulatory changes have no clear positive
fiscal effects as increased sales in one retail sector simply displace
another, without boosting cross border sales.
View Study, (PDF):
Package Store Retail Structure and the Regulation of Alcohol Sales
Don't Count Sunday Liquor Tax Revenues Just Yet – Growth
The latest debate over Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota has
featured claims that Minnesota is somehow missing out on $10 million in
I've debunked parts of this claim via twitter and comments sections, but
thought it worth a post…
Connecticut: Sunday Sales Hurts Business
By Brian M. Johnson, New Britain Herald
As the state approaches the one year anniversary of
Sunday booze sales, liquor store owners aren't in a celebratory mood.
Legalization of Sunday sales was signed into law May 20,
Area liquor store owners said the law has not resulted
in increased profits and has actually hurt their businesses.
Miroslaw Szczygla, owner of Five Star Liquor, in New
Britain, said the law is terrible for families and businesses.
"This is the worst decision we've made in Connecticut,"
said Szczygla. "We can't compete with Massachusetts unless we cut or lower
our liquor taxes. Most of the time Sunday there is no business until after
1 p.m. when the alcoholics come in. Most regular customers have bought all
their liquor by Saturday. Now I have no time for family at all. We can't
even afford to take off time for holidays."
Bob Shah, owner of A&S Package Store in New Britain
compared working all week to living in a golden jail.
"I haven't made any extra sales and I can't leave unless
I find someone trustworthy to manage the store. The state hasn't made any
extra money from this either. People still go out of Connecticut to sell
liquor because of the high liquor tax. In Massachusetts they have no sales
tax on liquor. What the state really needs to do is look at the numbers
and review their tax rates."
Vijay Patel, owner of Discount Package Store in New
Britain says he can't afford to stay open an extra day as a small liquor
"Our sales totals are no match for last year and there's
no time for rest," said Patel. "I don't have time to see my kids. They go
to school and by the time I get home at 10 p.m. they're already asleep."
In neighboring Bristol, Bruce Wolfert, owner of Wolf's
Wines & Spirits in Bristol said the law hasn't done what the government
"It has made no difference at the end of the week," said
Wolfert. "Our sales are about the same, except now we're working seven
days instead of six. That means we're spending more on electricity and
heating and giving up family time."
Raj Chaddah, owner of Town & Country Discount Liquors in
Bristol. sees the law as a huge burden.
"Our sales have just been spread out over another day,
with the extra cost of manpower," said Chaddah.
Marvin Friedman, owner of Maple End Package Store in
Bristol, said the law eliminates profits from people stocking up for
"When the law was first signed we didn't open on Sunday
and our business began to fall off," said Friedman. "When we opened
Sunday, it got back to where it was, but there's been no real difference
in total volume of sales.
Before we could open on Sundays, people would come in
Saturday to stock up. Now there's no incentive. People may show up on
Sunday, but nobody is buying extra. Any business that's open for more days
pays additional costs, so we actually lose out."
Colorado: Sunday Sales Leads to Wine & Beer in Grocery
Surrounded by a cadre of gas station managers and
owners, primarily representing 7-Elevens and Loaf 'N Jugs, Parker stood in
front of 66,000 dramatically stacked signed petitions during a press
conference in the Old Supreme Court Chambers hearing room at the state
Capitol on Tuesday. The petitions, collected at 7-Eleven and Loaf 'N Jug
stores statewide, ask the Legislature to allow gas stations and grocery
stores to sell full-strength beer.
Until last year (2008), Colorado law prohibited liquor
stores, which sell full-strength beer, from remaining open on Sundays.
That had given an opening to convenience store owners, who are able to
sell only lower strength 3.2 beer, permitting them a monopoly on liquor
sales one day each week.
However, as soon as the Legislature passed a partial
repeal of the state's Blue Laws in 2008 allowing liquor stores to stay
open and sell full-strength beer on Sundays, Parker says convenience
stores such as his lost 75 to 80 percent of their Sunday beer sales. The
storeowners say beer sales make up 6 percent of their total revenue.
Parker said now that 3.2 beer is obsolete, "The loss of
sales has hurt us, and today we are only asking for the ability to
Parker could be in luck. If state Sen. Jennifer Viega,
D-Denver, and Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, are successful, a bill
they are moving through the Legislature this year would allow the sale of
full-strength beer at convenience stores.
"I certainly recognize that, with the passage of Sunday
sales (last year), there has been a detrimental impact on you, on your
sales and to the grocery stores who are now selling an obsolete product,"
Viega said to the room of storeowners. "Consumers want easy access (to
products), and this allows for that."
Not everyone is behind the change. Owners of liquor
stores and craft breweries said allowing convenience and grocery stores to
sell full-strength beer is paramount to putting another nail in their
industry's coffin. Although liquor store and brewery owners say the simple
convenience of not having to make a special trip to a liquor store to buy
full-strength beer seven days a week is of concern, they also expressed
the fear that grocery stores will undercut the price of their liquor
products as part of a rewards program for frequent shoppers.
Currently, King Soopers and Safeway discount gasoline to
reward customers who reach a spending threshold.
"This legislation is not about convenience and fair
competition, it's about jobs, jobs, jobs," said Jeanne McEvoy, executive
director for the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association.
McEvoy said similar legislation in other states has had
a devastating effect on liquor store owners, and she said South Dakota
offers an example of how such a policy can destroy businesses and reduce
employment opportunities statewide.
In South Dakota, 48 liquor stores were in business
before similar legislation was passed. Within 10 years of the
legislation's passage, only three remained. She estimates that 700 liquor
stores in Colorado would close within three years should the proposed law
"If the state of Colorado has a problem with Sunday
sales, then fix Sunday sales," McEvoy said. "But robbing Peter to pay Paul
is never good policy."
However, the bill, which was introduced this week, may
not have such a dire consequences for owners of Colorado's liquor stores,
Five states, including Colorado, still sell 3.2 percent
beer while 36 states allow beer and wine sales in grocery stores, McFayden
said, adding that those 36 states have found ways to make it work.
The Effort Continues in 2013: Battle Brewing Over Beer
By Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman
Another legislative brouhaha is brewing this year over
whether to allow more supermarkets and convenience stores in Colorado to
sell full-strength beer, wine and liquor.
The battle is nothing new to the legislature. This year
would mark the fifth most recent attempt at allowing grocery and
convenience stores to sell full-strength beer. The last effort was in 2011
when two bills that would have allowed the sale died.
It is a polarizing issue, with supermarkets and
convenience stores on one side of the fence, and craft brewers and liquor
stores on the other side. But Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, said he is
forging ahead this year with a measured plan to allow more grocery and
convenience stores in Colorado to sell full-strength beer, wine and
Rather than open the sale up to all supermarkets and
convenience stores, Priola would like to first expand the current cap from
one to five on liquor licenses offered to retailers.
Current Colorado law prohibits the sale of full strength
beer, wine and liquor in most supermarkets and convenience stores. But
state law permits owners to hold one liquor license, which is why
so-called “big-box stores” like Target and Rite Aid, have one flagship
location where they sell full-strength alcoholic products. All the other
locations are restricted to selling 3.2 percent or lower beer, known as
After The Colorado Statesman first wrote about Priola’s
bill last month, some statehouse observers believed that the Adams County
lawmaker would introduce the legislation as one of his first three bills.
But Priola said bill drafters put the measure on paper before it was
ready. He plans on introducing the bill in the next two weeks.
“Full-strength beer is in supermarkets, it’s just one
license,” commented Priola. “The additional licenses affects more than
just grocery stores. It also would help out folks like Applejack [Wine and
Spirits] and Argonaut [Liquor], as well as many other small business
persons who want to have more than one location.”
Priola would not disclose whether he had been approached
by anyone to draft the bill, such as by the supermarket or convenience
store lobby. He said he is working with all sides on the issue.
“Overall, the goal I’ve had is to come to some piece of
legislation that helps here, helps there, and in the end leaves most folks
relatively harmless,” said Priola.
“I’ve sat in business for four years, I’ve heard the
issue over and over, I feel like I know more about the issue than most,”
Priola added, noting his past committee assignments to the House Business
Affairs and Labor Committee, and then to the House Economic and Business
Development Committee. “I can kind of cut through the BS that you hear
from both sides on what will and what will not happen.”
Bill frustrates craft beer industry
But Priola will surely face another heated exchange. He
is already receiving resistance from the craft brew industry and from
smaller package stores. They are fearful that expanding licenses would
tilt the playing field and put them out of business.
The Colorado Brewers Guild, the Wine and Spirits
Wholesalers Association of Colorado and the Colorado Licensed Beverage
Association have all told The Statesman that they have concerns about the
legislation, but they are waiting until a measure is introduced before
officially supporting or opposing the proposal.
Priola is attempting to gain their support by including
language that focuses on smaller craft breweries. His measure would allow
breweries that produce only a limited number of barrels per year to sell
their product in all supermarkets and convenience stores in the state. The
lawmaker said he is still working on a gallon-production limit to qualify.
The legislation would also ban the sale of caffeinated
alcoholic beverages and place an alcohol limit of 10 percent on so-called
“alcopops,” or flavored alcoholic beverages, that can be sold in grocery
and convenience stores.
Brian Dunn, owner of Great Divide Brewing Company in
Denver, believes the measure is a backdoor, small step to allowing
full-strength beer in all supermarkets and convenience stores in Colorado.
He said the current model works for his industry, noting double-digit
growth, and he was reluctant to see change.
“We don’t like it,” lamented Dunn, who sat down with
Priola to discuss the bill. “Craft is growing well enough without being in
grocery stores, we don’t feel like we need it.”
Sales of craft beers rose 14 percent in the first half
of 2012 over the same period in 2011, and production rose by 12 percent,
according to the Boulder-based Brewers Association. The industry also saw
revenue growth of 12 percent in 2010 and 15 percent in 2011.
Colorado ranks second for the most number of breweries,
and it ranks third in breweries per capita. There are 161 licensed craft
breweries in Colorado, with over 60 in planning, according to the Colorado
Since opening in 1994, Great Divide has seen
unprecedented growth. Last year the brewery saw a 24 percent increase in
barrel production, and the year before that there was a spike of nearly 30
percent. In Colorado alone, the craft beer company grew by nearly 50
percent, marking multiple years of similar growth, said Dunn.
“We’re growing fine in Colorado,” he said. “We don’t
need Priola’s bill to help us grow.”
“You didn’t ask us before you wrote the bill,” Dunn
continued of Priola’s effort. “We’re not in favor of it. I’m quite sure
the big brewers won’t be in favor because they’re excluded. What are you
doing? Nobody likes this bill, except for grocery stores.”
Grocers and retailers get behind effort
And indeed grocery stores are supporting the proposal.
Kris Staaf, regional director of public affairs and government relations
at Safeway, said expanding the cap allows supermarkets and convenience
stores to show what small growth might look like.
She also pointed out that the bill would be subject to
local government and community approval, which does not guarantee that
supermarkets would be allowed to quickly expand their alcohol sales.
Safeway’s flagship location for selling alcohol is
located in Littleton at Broadway and Mineral. Staaf said a study has shown
that since the store started selling full-strength beer, wine and liquor
five years ago, there has not been a negative impact to surrounding
“There was a lot of doom and gloom, people predicted all
these worst case scenarios when that store went up with liquor,” said
Staaf. “I can tell you that the businesses around it, the liquor stores
around it, we still have them in the same radius that we did before.”
“There’s one that if you walk out the front door and
turn to the right, you can actually see it from the front door,” she
continued. “But also other liquor stores have opened their doors in the
area since we’ve been open.”
Staaf also tried to expel fears that larger chains would
not stock smaller craft brews, noting that the Safeway store in Littleton
carries a wide selection of Colorado beer and wine.
“From the smaller guys to the larger brewers, it’s a
really nice, healthy mix,” she said. “So, if you look at the crystal ball,
are we going to carry every single product? Probably not. But what we’re
going to try to do is if we were able to do something where we can sell
like we do in the Littleton store, I think you can look at a nice product
Chris Howes, president of the Colorado Retail Council,
said the issue comes down to consumer convenience and bringing Colorado in
line with other states.
“We’d like to eventually bring Colorado up to speed and
modernize its liquor licensing so that we look like the rest of the
country,” said Howes, whose organization has been lobbying for years to
extend alcohol sales to all grocery and convenience stores.
Howes does not believe that Priola’s bill offers a
backdoor to extending alcohol sales in Colorado.
“I think it’s a front door,” he said. “It’s a small
door, but definitely the front door.”
“Any step to bring a popular product to our members’
stores is a positive one,” Howes added. “We’d like to see eventually all
of our grocers be able to sell these popular products.”
Proponents Proclaim: Sunday Liquor Sales In Colorado Lead To Extra $2
Million In Tax Revenue For State. However……
The Denver Daily News:
The Distilled Spirits Council reported [in 2010] that
Sunday liquor sales have helped Colorado's alcohol tax revenues grow 6
percent over the past year, though local liquor stores are split on
whether the expanded hours are anything to toast.
Colorado State Treasury's data shows that liquor, beer
and wine tax revenues increased by $2,056,858 in the 12 months following
July 1, 2008, when the bill allowing Sunday liquor sales went into effect.
Although the data doesn't separate the tax revenues generated by liquor
stores from bars and restaurants, the Distilled Spirits Council -- a group
that represents a majority of distilled spirit companies -- says that
since more than 75-percent of that tax revenue comes from liquor stores,
and because Colorado restaurants and bars have seen their revenues drop in
the past six months, it's credible to say that liquor stores played a big
role in that 6-percent tax revenue increase.
The Distilled Spirits Council admits the figures are
unverifiable estimates. In addition, the figures include the 2% national
average gain for that year.
See Growth & Justice Article for More:
Sample Letter to Legislator / Governor, (PDF)
Fergus Falls Journal
Sunday Liquor Law Fine As Is
Make no mistake, it would be beneficial to consumers if
the Legislature passed a bill to allow liquor stores to sell alcohol on
However, the hardship it would put on liquor stores,
including municipal liquor stores in Fergus Falls and the surrounding
area, seem to outweigh the convenience to consumers.
Since the days of prohibition, the laws preventing the
sale of alcohol at liquor stores on Sundays was to maintain control over
the sale of a product that clearly can be harmful if abused.
That said, the fact is that Minnesotans are used to the
law, and have planned their shopping patterns around it.
Changing it would mean liquor stores, both private and
municipal, would spend more money on staffing, utilities and other
expenses, and would not likely see an increase in revenue, since sales
would be spread out over seven days instead of six.
Other than convenience, there does not seem to be a dire
need to change the law. Let’s just leave it as it is.
Albert Lea Tribune
With six days a week to purchase liquor, one has to
wonder why it would be necessary to buy alcohol on Sundays.
While the state legislature ponders whether to allow such sales, we have
to step up and say please don't allow it.
According to various websites, alcohol is a contributing factor in four
most-commonly committed crimes: minor possession, open container, public
intoxication and DWI, obviously the most serious of the four. And one site
said that alcohol was a factor in 40 percent - or nearly half of all
We know that eliminating the sale of alcohol all together simply breeds
new crimes and really isn't a logical option these days.
From an economic standpoint, municipal liquor stores aren't necessarily
going to sell more alcohol than they do in six days, and they will incur
expenses associated with being open - paying staff hours, lights, etc.
However, with six days to purchase alcohol, and given the crime statistics
and economic impact locally, we doubt it's necessary to offer liquor an
Austin Daily Herald
It shows up on the legislative agenda every couple of
years, but there never seems to be much support for the idea of expanding
Minnesota liquor store operating hours to include Sundays.
As in the past, this year's version of the bill should be allowed to
quietly fade away because for a variety of reasons Minnesota does not need
Sunday liquor sales.
There has never been any solid indication that opening liquor stores on
Sunday would create an appreciable benefit for Minnesotans (or anyone
else). There are some reasons that it is a bad idea.
For one thing, anyone who can't get himself or herself organized to stop
by the liquor store prior to Sunday probably has less need than most to
buy any liquor.
More seriously, it is very clear Sunday hours would be a problem for small
operators who would, for competitive reasons, be forced to open their
stores on Sunday without gaining any appreciable sales.
Minnesota's leaders have already introduced a multitude of tax and policy
plans that, if they become law, are going to break the backs of some small
businesses. Another hardly seems like good policy.
Minnesota has gotten along just fine without Sunday liquor sales. No one
is harmed by keeping the current law intact, and there would be harm for
Letting the bill die would be good public policy.
Did you know liquor sales is not the only Blue Law in
Minnesota Law (Statute 168.272) provides that the sale of
cars on Sundays is forbidden. In fact, anyone who sells a car on a Sunday
is guilty of a misdemeanor the first time and a gross misdemeanor the next
time. So, for those who support repealing the ban on liquor sales on
Sunday – is it about government not interfering in commerce, or is it
about more access to alcohol?
168.275 SALE OF MOTOR VEHICLE ON SUNDAY FORBIDDEN.
Any person who shall carry on or engage in the business of
buying, selling, exchanging, dealing in or trading in new or used motor
vehicles; or who shall open any place of business or lot wherein the
person attempts to or does engage in the business of buying, selling,
exchanging, dealing or trading in new or used motor vehicles; or who does
buy, sell, exchange, deal or trade in new or used motor vehicles as a
business on the first day of the week, commonly known and designated as
Sunday, is guilty of a misdemeanor for the first offense, and a gross
misdemeanor for each succeeding offense. This section does not apply to
the sale of (1) trailers designed and used primarily to transport
watercraft, as defined in section
86B.005, subdivision 18, (2) trailers designed and used primarily to
transport all-terrain vehicles, as defined in section
84.92, subdivision 8, (3) trailers designed and used primarily to
transport snowmobiles as defined in section
84.81, subdivision 3, or (4) utility trailers as defined in section
168.27, subdivision 20.